In a break with its postwar pacifism, Japan this week passed laws granting the Defense Agency full ministerial status and requiring schools to “instill patriotism.” As a result of the school reform, many more Japanese schools will use revisionist textbooks that downplay Japan’s imperial past and portray its past occupation of Asian countries as liberation from Western colonial powers. The books provoked angry demonstrations in China and South Korea when they were introduced a few years ago. The new laws are just the first steps in what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls a campaign to “restore national pride.” Next, he wants to amend the nation’s constitution, written by the U.S. after World War II, to allow Japan to deploy combat troops overseas.
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